Tarasov makes 47 saves, Blue Jackets hand Panthers third loss in row

COLUMBUS — Daniil Tarasov made an NHL career-high 47 saves, and the Columbus Blue Jackets defeated the Florida Panthers 5-3 at Nationwide Arena on Sunday.

Tarasov was making his first NHL start since Oct. 25 after being recalled from Cleveland of the American Hockey League on an emergency basis on Wednesday.

“Just a bit nervous before the first shots,” Tarasov said. “I didn’t play in the NHL for a long time.”

The game was also meaningful for the 23-year-old because he was facing Florida goalie Sergey Bobrovskywhose career he has followed closely.

“Every time I play against a Russian goalie in the NHL it’s special, and tonight it was special because we’re from the same town (Novokuznetsk),” Tarasov said.

Video: [email protected]: Gaudreau increases Blue Jackets’ lead in 3rd

Johnny Gaudreau had a goal and two assists, and Boone Jenner, Yegor Chinakhov, Sean Kuraly and Kent Johnson also scored for the Blue Jackets (7-10-1), who are 4-1-1 in their past six games.

Matthew Tkachuk and Aaron Ekblad scored, Gustav Forsling had two assists, and Bobrovsky made 18 saves for the Panthers (9-8-2), who have lost three straights, including 5-4 in a shootout to the Calgary Flames on Saturday.

“We’ve got to get some people on that front [end] and score some hard ugly goals because we’re having a hard time completing the plays around the net,” Florida coach Paul Maurice said.

Tkachuk gave the Panthers a 1-0 lead at 7:52 of the first period, tipping in a one-timer from the left point by Forsling.

Chinakhov tied it 1-1 at 11:21 on a breakaway after intercepting a pass from Marc Staal at the Blue Jackets’ blue line.

Florida outshot Columbus 18-4 in the first period.

“It’s kind of been the same story all year,” Panthers forward Nick Cousins he said. “First period we come out and dominate the shot category and every other statistic, and after that we take the foot off the gas and the other team comes with a push.

“We’ve got to figure out our second period. Third periods we’re fine, we come out with energy. Seconds periods have got to be better.”

Video: [email protected]: Tkachuk nets 8th goal of season in 1st

Johnson put Columbus ahead 2-1 at 2:53 of the second period, curling in the right face-off circle and scoring through a screen by Jenner on a power play.

Ekblad tied it 2-2 at 16:38 when he skated in from the left circle and jammed the puck between the pads of Tarasov.

Kuraly was credited with a short-handed goal that made it 3-2 at 1:57 of the third period when the rebound of Eric Robinson‘s shot went off his leg.

“Huge goals,” Gaudreau said. “You could see our confidence go straight through the roof there. We were playing in their zone even with the lead.”

Video: [email protected]: Kuraly gives Blue Jackets lead in 3rd period

Gaudreau then made it 4-2 at 7:55, controlling a loose puck and scoring on a wrist shot from the left circle, and Jenner tipped in a pass from Gaudreau on a power play to extend the lead to 5-2 at 18: 11.

“It’s great to find that chemistry with a player,” Gaudreau said. “It’s tough sometimes losing games and switching lines with different guys, but me and Boone have stuck together for most parts of the season.

“It takes time but we’re getting there. We’re finding each other and using each other well. It’s been good.”

Colin White scored with 55 seconds left for the 5-3 final.

NOTES: Columbus goalie Elvis Merzlikins was placed on injured reserve retroactive to Nov. 15 earlier Sunday. … The Panthers held a 95-38 advantage in shot attempts. … Tkachuk scored in three straight and extended his point streak to four games (three goals, five assists). … Forsling extended his assist streak to five games (six assists). … Gaudreau has six points (one goal, five assists) in a four-game point streak. … Jenner extended his point streak to four games (four goals, two assists). … Columbus forward Jack Roslovic missed his second straight game because of an illness.

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